Everybody has a dream. Some little girls wanted to be ballerinas, some doctors and lawyers. Others, writers and singers and actresses. I was taught to look good whatever you do and my first Dream Chaser is Lady DJ Catina “DJ Love Deluxe” Passmore and she’s cute as a button and a friggin beast on the wheels (turntables).
I was graced with the opportunity to get an interview with DJ Love Deluxe to get her take on being a woman in the industry, how she balances her dream and her life, and get her advice for other dream chasers.
How long have you been spinnin? What made you want to become a Lady DJ?
I’ve been spinnin for 6 years. My love of music; sitting in my uncle’s muscle car as a kid listening to 8 track tapes of Funk and R&B, being a drummer in my high school band, listening to broken beat from UK artists like Bugz in the Attic, falling in love with the sultry and body groovin, uplifting sounds of soulful house music on digitalDJs.com (defunct now), the support my best friend producer RyNeaSoul and…..the passing of my mother. Learning to DJ was therapeutic and fulfilling. I dove in on a mission to be pain free and to hone the skills I needed to spin live. My mentors; DJ Don Johnson (Al), DJ Gaffle (Atl), DJ Sarena Tyler (Detroit), DJ Iceman (Seattle, Wa) ,Master DJ Tony Soul, DJ Joel Douglas (Fl), DJ KYUNG, DJ Jr Starr (Al) and the legendary Producer and House music DJ Jesse Saunders deserve a great deal of credit for their contributions to the DJ I am today.
Was there any moment, in your pursuit of your dreams that you wanted to quit? When and how did you overcome it?
Admittedly, I’ve wanted to give up DJng many times. When you consider my full time job working in Health Care I.T. that requires 24/7 on call rotation, being the Ride leader of the Black Girls Do Bike Birmingham Chapter, being a supportive Auntee to youngsters who I love as though they are my own (who have ALSO contributed to a gray strand or two) lol and simply juggling life, home, family and friendships..is a huge task. I just didn’t realize that it would be so challenging.
DJng is more than about pressing play..It’s more than about the music even. Djng comprises being a good selector; being able to choose tunes appropriate for any event (can require hours, days or months to just listen, critique, organize), skillfull execution; the ability to match different tempos of songs in my headphones to the ones you hear on the dancefloor, then while counting in my head to stay on beat, figure out how to creatively transition using the functions available to me on my mixer, how to introduce the song in my headphones smoothly (blend) or creatively without sounding like galloping horses (clashing drums).And you can’t forget to monitor your volume levels on each channel,etc. And then there’s the business side: branding, marketing, building relationships with your peers and fan base, with businesses and potential clients all while maintaining the life above lol.
I still have days where I question my goals. I joined a group called Artist Launch led by a music industry exec Karen Marie Mason who shared these nuggets:
- Perfect as you go
- Build your tribe, one by one
- Don’t push your music, your steak on a person who’s vegan. Find out who your fans are.
- Spend more time honing your skills than on social media
- Brand and market yourself (DJlovedeluxe.com)
- Each accomplishment, big or small is a win
These ideas freed me from the hustle of trying to be an overnight success..I had to humble myself and realize I’ve got even more work to do. I’m pacing myself..I’m always a student of my craft. I’m overcoming.
What, to you, is the most difficult part of being a woman in this industry?
Female DJs are considerably more accepted these days. It was difficult being a female who started out DJng without turntables but the use of digital devices. I along with many who didn’t have the resources financially or access to turntablists suffered the wrath of purists. Being a black female, though I spin other genres R&B, Hip Hop, Beats, etc but being a black woman in Alabama who spins soulful, deep and afro House is a challenge. Once people hear it, they LOVE it. Hard convincing the venue owners to let me, an uknown to them lift Birmingham’s night life with ultra lounge type, sexy tunes that you can even dance to.
They say music is the universal language. Do you see the way your choice of songs/mixes changes the mood of your crowd?
The mood is right from jump because of preparation.I listen to my clients when not spinning house while also offering input that gives me the freedom to add to what they request to hear. Observing through a crowd’s body language, facial expressions, level of engagement keeps me aware of the mood and if it needs to change. Though I prepare, a DJ rarely plays all the songs they’ve dug out of their crates and in the way you practice transitioning in the studio. The crowd determines that flow.
And I always remind people that I’ve made elderly white ladies, a black man raised in the rural south, and have been successful at getting people who routinely listen to mainstream radio, to enjoy house music. I’m conscious of playing tunes at the appropriate hour or crowd levels. I also try to keep the party as hype as you want it and Bliss! my house music party is always sexy with an underground feel that appeals to creatives.
What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re just laying back, chillin’?
Beats, HipHop Soul, NuSoul. I recently discovered artists Deli Rowe, Indi Tyton and Chi Christine. I really enjoy underground hip hop and soul music. I even tune in to R&B artists like Angie Stone sometime. I love Cree Summer’s first album.
How do you balance work, home, and DJing?
I set goals for the week in each area, keep my calendar updated… Pray lol
If you had any advice for those who are considering chasing their dreams, what would it be?
Go for it. Life is too short not to. Your spirit will guide you towards or away.
In my book, DJ Love Deluxe is up there with the likes of Spinderella, MC Lyte, and Solange. She makes everyone wanna get up and groove, even if you can only do a two-step. Check her out on her website. And tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th, at the Pink Lux Inbetweener/Plus Size Summer Fashion Show at Belk @ The Summit in Birmingham!